Notebookcheck

BlackBerry KEY2 Smartphone Review

Thomas Meyer and Daniel Schmidt (translated by Alex Alderson), 07/21/2018

A BlackBerry with a physical keyboard. The BlackBerry KEY2 combines the manufacturer’s traditional physical keyboard with a few special security features that also runs Android OS. Find out what the KEY2 is good for in this review.

The BlackBerry KEY2 has a physical keyboard.
The BlackBerry KEY2 has a physical keyboard.

BlackBerry is now run under licence by TCL, a Chinese manufacturer. This change from the company’s historical ownership is part of the reason why the BlackBerry KEY2 runs practically stock Android Oreo 8.1 except for some additional business and security features.

They KEY2 measures only 151 x 71 x 8.5 mm (~6 x 2.8 x 0.33 in) despite its physical keyboard with its integrated fingerprint reader and thirty-five backlit keys. This compactness comes at the cost of the display size, resulting in the KEY2 having a 4.5-inch display. This is a 1,620x1,080 panel that has a 433 PPI pixel density.

The case has a non-slip back, which contains a 3,500 mAh battery that is not user replaceable. The KEY2 is equipped with 64 GB eMMC flash storage that can be expanded with up to a 256 GB microSD card. One other feature is the comfort button on the right-hand side of the device. This can be freely configured for any use, perhaps as a camera button, for example.

The KEY2 is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC that integrates a Qualcomm Kyro 260 processor. This octa-core CPU has four cores that are clocked at 2.2 GHz and four that are clocked at 1.8 GHz. The CPU is complemented by a Qualcomm Adreno 512 GPU and 6 GB of RAM.

The KEY2 has dual 12 MP rear-facing cameras that can record videos in up to 4K at 30 FPS. The front-facing camera is an 8 MP sensor, which can record videos in up to Full HD at 30 FPS and uses the LCD as a flash.

The KEY2 is available in either black or silver and has a €649 (~$758) RRP. Incidentally, this is the online price at launch too. This pricing puts the KEY2 in competition with the Samsung Galaxy S9. However, the Galaxy S9 is equipped with 64 GB of much faster UFS 2.1 flash storage and a considerably more powerful SoC.

You could also spend less on devices that offer comparable performance to the KEY2. The Nokia 7 Plus and the Motorola Moto G6 Plus, for example, are equipped with the same SoC as the KEY2, but they cost around €370 (~$432) and €290 (~$339) respectively. Likewise, the BlackBerry KEYone also has 64 GB of storage but costs around €430 (~$502).

BlackBerry Key2 (Blackberry Series)
Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 512, Core: 850 MHz
Memory
6144 MB 
Display
4.5 inch 3:2, 1620 x 1080 pixel 433 PPI, Capacitive touchscreen, IPS, Scratch-resistant glass, glossy: yes
Storage
64 GB eMMC Flash, 64 GB 
, 50 GB free
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm jack, Card Reader: microSD up to 256 GB, 1 Fingerprint Reader, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Fingerprint sensor, Proximity sensor, Compass, USB 3.0 Type-C USB On-The-Go (OTG), USB Power Delivery (PD) 2.0, BeiDou, Galileo
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0, GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz. UMTS: 800, 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz. LTE: 800, 1800, 2100, 2600 MHz. LTE Cat. 6. LTE Bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 20, 28, 29, 30, 66., LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 8.5 x 151.4 x 71.8 ( = 0.33 x 5.96 x 2.83 in)
Battery
3500 mAh Lithium-Ion
Operating System
Android 8.1 Oreo
Camera
Primary Camera: 12 MPix Dual Camera: 12 MP (f/1.8 aperture, 1/2.3", 1.28µm pixel size, Dual PDAF) & 12 MP (f/2.6 aperture, 1.0 µm pixel size, PDAF)
Secondary Camera: 8 MPix 8 MP, f/2.0 aperture, 1.12 µm pixel size, Fixed Focus, Selfie flash using LCD
Additional features
Speakers: Mono, Keyboard: Physical, QWERTZ, Keyboard Light: yes, Headphones, In-ear adapter, USB Type-C charger, USB Type-A to Type-C cable, Quick Start Guide, SIM tool, BlackBerry Hub, BBM, DTEK Security Suite, 24 Months Warranty, SAR value: Head – 0.72 W/kg, Body – 1.68 W/kg, fanless
Weight
180 g ( = 6.35 oz / 0.4 pounds), Power Supply: 47 g ( = 1.66 oz / 0.1 pounds)
Price
649 Euro

 

Case

The KEY2 stands out from the mass of other smartphones with its carbon-look rear case. This relatively soft surface not only feels grippier in the hand than other devices, but also it means that the KEY2 is less likely to slip off smooth surfaces such as tables. The frame of the device is made of an aluminium alloy, which also feels solid.

The user-configurable comfort button, volume rocker and power button are on the right-hand side of the device with the combined microSD card and nano-SIM slot being on the opposite side. The KEY2 also has a fingerprint scanner that is integrated within the spacebar, which is the largest of the physical keyboard’s keys.

The KEY2’s relatively compact dimensions make it easy to use one-handed.

The BlackBerry KEY2 with its predecessor, the KEY1, on the left.
The BlackBerry KEY2 with its predecessor, the KEY1, on the left.
The KEY2’s frame is made of an aluminium alloy.
The KEY2 has a 4.5-inch display.
The KEY2 runs practically stock Android.
There is a user-configurable comfort button on the right-hand side of the device.
The rear of the device has a rugged carbon-look finish that is very grippy.

Size Comparison

Connectivity

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The KEY2 features a Snapdragon 660 SoC, an upper mid-range ARMv8 based SoC that Qualcomm introduced in mid-2017. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 660 has around 30% faster cores than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 625. The Snapdragon 660 also supports Bluetooth 5, a faster LTE modem, USB 3.1, and Quick Charge 4.0.

The Snapdragon 660 integrates a 64-bit capable Qualcomm Kyro 260 CPU, which has four performance cores that operate at up to 2.2 GHz and four power-saving cores that operate at up to 1.8 GHz.

Likewise, the Snapdragon 660 includes a Qualcomm Adreno 512 GPU, which supports LPDDR3 VRAM at 933 MHz. The Adreno 512 supports Vulkan, OpenGL ES 3.1 and other modern APIs.

The Snapdragon 660 also includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem that supports LTE Cat. 13 uplink and Cat. 12 downlink. The X12 modem supports up to 600 MBit/s peak download and 150 MBit/s peak upload LTE speeds.

The KEY2 is equipped with 64 GB eMMC flash storage. While the volume is typical for devices at this price, the storage type is not. The Galaxy S9, for example, is equipped with a much faster UFS 2.1 flash memory. The speed differences between eMMC and UFS 2.1 will be most noticeable in terms of system performance. The KEY2 also supports up to 256 GB microSD cards.

The KEY2 has a USB 3.0 Type-C port that is located on the underside of the device. The Type-C port supports USB Power Delivery (PD) 2.0, USB On-The-Go (OTG) and data transfer. There is also an LED notification light above the display.

Software

The KEY2 ships with a practically stock version of Android Oreo 8.1 save for the few additional business and security features that BlackBerry has included.

BlackBerry has installed the BlackBerry Hub, which acts as a central messaging platform that incorporates other messaging apps. There is also DTEK, which allows you to monitor your device’s security status.

One standout additional feature is Privacy Shade. When enabled, only a small section of the display is visible while the rest is blacked out. This can be moved or resized with the aim of keeping prying eyes at bay from sensitive information.

BlackBerry also includes two other apps, Locker and Power Center. Locker encrypts confidential documents, while Power Center notifies you about your battery level so that you can easily monitor your battery usage throughout the day.

The DTEK app acts as a security monitor.
The DTEK app acts as a security monitor.
The Locker app allows specific data to be encrypted and hidden from view.
The Locker app allows specific data to be encrypted and hidden from view.
The Power Center app sends battery level updates as to when you should charge your device.
The Power Center app sends battery level updates as to when you should charge your device.
Power Center notifications can be configured in Settings.
Power Center notifications can be configured in Settings.

Communication & GPS

The KEY2 supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi standards and so supports both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks. Our test device scored poorly in iperf3 Client (receive) with 137 MBit/s, which is 29% below average. Conversely, our test device finished second to only the Galaxy S9 in iperf3 Client (transmit) with a speed of 319 MBit/s.

Our test device achieved a relatively low -32 dBm signal attenuation when next to our 02 HomeBox 2 router.

The KEY2 supports LTE, GSM and UMTS. Additionally, the device supports Bluetooth 5.0 and has an NFC chip, the latter of which can be used with apps such as Google Pay.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Samsung Galaxy S9
Mali-G72 MP18, 9810, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
652 MBit/s ∼100% +376%
BlackBerry KeyOne
Adreno 506, 625, 32 GB eMMC Flash
347 MBit/s ∼53% +153%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
Adreno 508, 630, 64 GB eMMC Flash
310 MBit/s ∼48% +126%
Nokia 7 Plus
Adreno 512, 660, 64 GB eMMC Flash
247 MBit/s ∼38% +80%
Average of class Smartphone
  (5.9 - 939, n=270)
196 MBit/s ∼30% +43%
BlackBerry Key2
Adreno 512, 660, 64 GB eMMC Flash
137 MBit/s ∼21%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Samsung Galaxy S9
Mali-G72 MP18, 9810, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
519 MBit/s ∼100% +63%
BlackBerry Key2
Adreno 512, 660, 64 GB eMMC Flash
319 MBit/s ∼61%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
Adreno 508, 630, 64 GB eMMC Flash
311 MBit/s ∼60% -3%
Nokia 7 Plus
Adreno 512, 660, 64 GB eMMC Flash
307 MBit/s ∼59% -4%
BlackBerry KeyOne
Adreno 506, 625, 32 GB eMMC Flash
245 MBit/s ∼47% -23%
Average of class Smartphone
  (9.4 - 703, n=270)
191 MBit/s ∼37% -40%
GPS test: inside
GPS test: inside
GPS test: outdoors
GPS test: outdoors

Our test device is GPS accurate up to four meters (~13 ft) outdoors, which is impressive. However, we would expect better than its 33-meter (~108 ft) indoor GPS accuracy for a device at this price.

We then tested the KEY2’s GPS accuracy by taking it on a bike ride and comparing its results against a Garmin Edge 500, a professional navigation device. The KEY2 recorded a ten-meter (~33 ft) greater total distance covered than the Garmin, which is decent. Our test device struggled to accurately plot us through corners though, demonstrating the KEY2’s limitations as a serious navigational device.

GPS test: BlackBerry KEY2 – Overview
GPS test: BlackBerry KEY2 – Overview
GPS test: BlackBerry KEY2 – Corners
GPS test: BlackBerry KEY2 – Corners
GPS test: BlackBerry KEY2 – Loop
GPS test: BlackBerry KEY2 – Loop
GPS test: Garmin Edge 500 – Overview
GPS test: Garmin Edge 500 – Overview
GPS test: Garmin Edge 500 – Corners
GPS test: Garmin Edge 500 – Corners
GPS test: Garmin Edge 500 - Loop
GPS test: Garmin Edge 500 - Loop

Telephone Features & Call Quality

Contact List
Contact List
Phone App
Phone App
BlackBerry Hub
BlackBerry Hub

The KEY2 uses the Google Phone and Contact apps to handle telephony by default. You could use the BlackBerry Hub as an alternative though as it manages phone calls, emails, texts, and other instant messages apps such as Skype, WhatsApp or Line. You could, of course, install other such apps from the Google Play Store.

Our test device has good call quality regardless of whether we tested it indoors or outdoors. Our call partner was easy to understand even in areas with poor signal strength. Making calls over speakerphone also works well as the speakers are loud enough to drown out most background noise.

According to BlackBerry, the KEY2 supports both VoLTE and VoWiFi. We were unable to test these with our carrier during our tests.

Cameras

Example photo taken with the rear-facing cameras
Example photo taken with the rear-facing cameras
Example photo taken with the front-facing camera
Example photo taken with the front-facing camera

It is a nice surprise to see that BlackBerry has equipped the KEY2 with dual 12 MP rear-facing cameras when camera quality is likely to play a minor role for most business customers. The main sensor has a f/1.8 aperture, which is complemented by the secondary 12 MP sensor, which has a much smaller f/2.6 aperture. Our test device struggles with low-light shots though, despite having a f/1.8 aperture sensor. Low-light performance is so poor that we needed to always have the flash on just to get a reasonably good photo. Blurring at the edges of pictures is limited though, which is one positive.

The KEY2 has an 8 MP front-facing camera, which has a fixed focus and uses the display as a flash in lieu of an LED flash. The camera produces ok photos that are reasonably sharp, even at the picture’s edge, but other smartphones at this price take considerably better photos. The front-facing camera is particularly let down by its LCD display flash, which is noticeably weak compared to LED alternatives in other smartphones.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images
ColorChecker: The reference color is displayed in the lower half of each area of color
ColorChecker: The reference color is displayed in the lower half of each area of color

We then subjected the KEY2 to camera tests under controlled lighting conditions. During these tests, we photograph a test chart that simulates difficult details for cameras to accurately capture such as fine lines or text against a colored background.

Our test device performed admirably well for a business device, in our opinion. Text on red or purple backgrounds is somewhat out of focus, and the edges of lines are slightly frayed. Overall, the picture is appropriately exposed, but the colors are somewhat muddy.

Photograph of our test chart
Photograph of our test chart
Test chart in detail

Accessories & Warranty

The KEY2 comes with a charger, a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, some headphones for which BlackBerry includes a few spares and a Quick Start Guide.

BlackBerry provides the KEY2 with a twenty-four month manufacturer’s warranty.

Keyboard

As with many other modern Android smartphones, the KEY2 has three virtual buttons at the bottom of the display. These on-screen buttons are arranged from left to right by Home, Back and Recents.

The KEY2’s standout feature is its physical keyboard though. The keys have a pleasant pressure point when typing and are backlit. The backlighting is sufficiently bright when using the KEY2 in dark areas or at night. It will take some time to adjust to typing accurately and quickly, but this will come naturally once you start typing.

BlackBerry has done a good job of integrating the fingerprint scanner within the spacebar. The fingerprint scanner reliably recognises our fingers despite its relatively small footprint. There is also Flick Typing, which works like the swiping feature on many virtual keyboards. Language switching is relatively easy too.

Unfortunately, the keyboard has some drawbacks. Firstly, shortcuts such as copy and paste are often faster when using a virtual keyboard rather than the physical one. Our main gripe though is with the key size. We would have preferred them to be slightly larger as it is particularly cumbersome to switch between letters and numbers.

The display is also easy to type on. The display is bright and responsive, so much so that it is easier to input numbers with the virtual keyboard than it is on the physical keyboard.

The virtual keyboard in portrait mode
The virtual keyboard in portrait mode
The virtual keyboard in landscape mode
The virtual keyboard in landscape mode
The BlackBerry KEY2’s physical keyboard
The BlackBerry KEY2’s physical keyboard

Display

Sub-pixel array
Sub-pixel array

The KEY2 has a 4.5-inch IPS display with a 1,620x1,080 native resolution and a pixel density of 433 PPI. Other devices at this price have larger, higher resolution displays, but none has a physical keyboard like the KEY2.

We would recommend adjusting brightness manually as the ambient light sensor typically dims the display too heavily, particularly when playing games.

542
cd/m²
543
cd/m²
532
cd/m²
543
cd/m²
569
cd/m²
550
cd/m²
543
cd/m²
554
cd/m²
560
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 569 cd/m² Average: 548.4 cd/m² Minimum: 4.51 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 93 %
Center on Battery: 569 cd/m²
Contrast: 1626:1 (Black: 0.35 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 5.4 | 0.64-98 Ø6.5
98.2% sRGB (Calman 2D)
Gamma: 2.6
BlackBerry Key2
IPS, 1620x1080, 4.5
Samsung Galaxy S9
Super AMOLED, 2960x1440, 5.8
Nokia 7 Plus
IPS, 2160x1080, 6
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
IPS, 2160x1080, 5.9
BlackBerry KeyOne
IPS, 1620x1080, 4.5
Screen
32%
11%
13%
4%
Brightness middle
569
529
-7%
458
-20%
761
34%
641
13%
Brightness
548
527
-4%
463
-16%
723
32%
622
14%
Brightness Distribution
93
96
3%
92
-1%
90
-3%
89
-4%
Black Level *
0.35
0.22
37%
0.69
-97%
0.34
3%
Contrast
1626
2082
28%
1103
-32%
1885
16%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5
1.4
72%
4
20%
2.4
52%
4.7
6%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
10.1
4
60%
7.4
27%
5.2
49%
10.6
-5%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
5.4
1.6
70%
4.7
13%
1.8
67%
5.9
-9%
Gamma
2.6 85%
2.16 102%
2.19 100%
2.21 100%
2.22 99%
CCT
7424 88%
6358 102%
7425 88%
6312 103%
7785 83%

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 1908 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 1908 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 1908 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 53 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8811 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Our test device has a relatively bright display with the ambient light sensor activated. X-Rite i1Pro2 rates the average maximum brightness at 548.4 cd/m² with the ambient light sensor on and 420 cd/m² with the KEY2 set to manual brightness.

The more realistic Average Picture Level (APL50) test, which uniformly distributes light and dark areas results in a maximum luminosity of 569 cd/m² at the center of the display, with APL50 measuring the darkest area at 532 cd/m². This results in a 93% uniformly bright display, which is on par with the competition.

Our test device has a 0.39 cd/m² black value as measured by the APL50 test. This and the relatively high maximum brightness combine to yield an impressive 1,626:1 contrast ratio. This means that the KEY2 has a more contrast-rich display than the Moto G6 Plus, but it falls some way behind the Nokia 7 Plus and KEYone in this regard.

The IPS panel’s colors are punchy enough for daily use, but our test device has relatively poor sRGB color space coverage. The DeltaE color and grayscale deviations from sRGB could be better too, as could the display’s color temperature.

CalMAN: Color Accuracy – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Accuracy – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Space – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Space – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Grayscale – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Grayscale – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Saturation – sRGB target color space
CalMAN: Color Saturation – sRGB target color space

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
24.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 13.2 ms rise
↘ 11.2 ms fall
The screen shows good response rates in our tests, but may be too slow for competitive gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 38 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (25.7 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
47.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 22.8 ms rise
↘ 24.4 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 77 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (41.1 ms).

The KEY2 has strong viewing angles thanks to its IPS display. There are no color distortions at acute viewing angles, but there is some loss of brightness.

Our test device remains sufficiently legible outdoors thanks to its relatively bright display and strong colors.

Using the KEY2 outside
Using the KEY2 outside
Using the KEY2 outside
Using the KEY2 outside
Using the KEY2 outside
Using the KEY2 outside
Viewing Angles
Viewing Angles

Performance

The KEY2 is equipped with a Snapdragon 660 SoC, which we have seen in numerous other devices at this price. The SoC integrates an octa-core Qualcomm Kyro 260 CPU, of which four cores can run at up to 2.2 GHz and the other four at up to 1.8 GHz. This is complemented by 6 GB of RAM, which ensures that the KEY2 runs smoothly even after opening multiple apps.

The KEY2 is on par in CPU benchmarks with the other Snapdragon 660 powered devices that we have tested and beats many of our comparison devices. On the other hand, the KEY2 cannot compete with the Galaxy S9, which is equipped with a much faster SoC. This is to be expected though as the Galaxy S9 costs around €200 (~$234) more than the KEY2.

AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
116968 Points ∼54%
Samsung Galaxy S9
217950 Points ∼100% +86%
Nokia 7 Plus
117165 Points ∼54% 0%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
71635 Points ∼33% -39%
BlackBerry KeyOne
63276 Points ∼29% -46%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (110680 - 120479, n=6)
116609 Points ∼54% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (23275 - 232931, n=359)
72132 Points ∼33% -38%
AnTuTu v7 - Total Score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
126462 Points ∼52%
Samsung Galaxy S9
243861 Points ∼100% +93%
Nokia 7 Plus
141701 Points ∼58% +12%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
90347 Points ∼37% -29%
BlackBerry KeyOne
78522 Points ∼32% -38%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (126462 - 142189, n=5)
138388 Points ∼57% +9%
Average of class Smartphone (17073 - 348178, n=138)
109082 Points ∼45% -14%
PCMark for Android
Work 2.0 performance score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
6124 Points ∼100%
Samsung Galaxy S9
5291 Points ∼86% -14%
Nokia 7 Plus
6077 Points ∼99% -1%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
4875 Points ∼80% -20%
BlackBerry KeyOne
4805 Points ∼78% -22%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (5965 - 6124, n=5)
6042 Points ∼99% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (4748 - 8601, n=225)
4439 Points ∼72% -28%
Work performance score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
7026 Points ∼100%
Samsung Galaxy S9
5736 Points ∼82% -18%
Nokia 7 Plus
6825 Points ∼97% -3%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
5712 Points ∼81% -19%
BlackBerry KeyOne
5586 Points ∼80% -20%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (6332 - 7026, n=5)
6766 Points ∼96% -4%
Average of class Smartphone (4147 - 10571, n=389)
4739 Points ∼67% -33%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
1092 Points ∼99%
Samsung Galaxy S9
1099 Points ∼99% +1%
Nokia 7 Plus
1101 Points ∼100% +1%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
925 Points ∼84% -15%
BlackBerry KeyOne
728 Points ∼66% -33%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (1078 - 1146, n=5)
1105 Points ∼100% +1%
Average of class Smartphone (7 - 1731, n=466)
678 Points ∼61% -38%
Graphics (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
2288 Points ∼36%
Samsung Galaxy S9
6373 Points ∼100% +179%
Nokia 7 Plus
2298 Points ∼36% 0%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
1523 Points ∼24% -33%
BlackBerry KeyOne
1004 Points ∼16% -56%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (2257 - 2298, n=5)
2283 Points ∼36% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (18 - 15875, n=466)
1622 Points ∼25% -29%
Memory (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
2256 Points ∼85%
Samsung Galaxy S9
2669 Points ∼100% +18%
Nokia 7 Plus
2503 Points ∼94% +11%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
1213 Points ∼45% -46%
BlackBerry KeyOne
739 Points ∼28% -67%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (2256 - 2503, n=5)
2414 Points ∼90% +7%
Average of class Smartphone (21 - 4798, n=466)
1157 Points ∼43% -49%
System (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
5229 Points ∼84%
Samsung Galaxy S9
6234 Points ∼100% +19%
Nokia 7 Plus
4976 Points ∼80% -5%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
3249 Points ∼52% -38%
BlackBerry KeyOne
2836 Points ∼45% -46%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (4797 - 5282, n=5)
5066 Points ∼81% -3%
Average of class Smartphone (369 - 12202, n=466)
2351 Points ∼38% -55%
Overall (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
2330 Points ∼71%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3285 Points ∼100% +41%
Nokia 7 Plus
2369 Points ∼72% +2%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
1535 Points ∼47% -34%
BlackBerry KeyOne
1113 Points ∼34% -52%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (2322 - 2394, n=6)
2348 Points ∼71% +1%
Average of class Smartphone (150 - 6097, n=470)
1178 Points ∼36% -49%
Geekbench 4.1/4.2
Compute RenderScript Score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
5672 Points ∼91%
Samsung Galaxy S9
6219 Points ∼100% +10%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
3763 Points ∼61% -34%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (5486 - 5811, n=4)
5664 Points ∼91% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (836 - 14417, n=164)
4116 Points ∼66% -27%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
5806 Points ∼66%
Samsung Galaxy S9
8786 Points ∼100% +51%
Nokia 7 Plus
5867 Points ∼67% +1%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
4011 Points ∼46% -31%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (5806 - 5867, n=6)
5847 Points ∼67% +1%
Average of class Smartphone (1099 - 11598, n=213)
4133 Points ∼47% -29%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
1617 Points ∼44%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3688 Points ∼100% +128%
Nokia 7 Plus
1646 Points ∼45% +2%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
822 Points ∼22% -49%
BlackBerry KeyOne
Points ∼0% -100%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (1579 - 1646, n=6)
1619 Points ∼44% 0%
Average of class Smartphone (394 - 4824, n=214)
1218 Points ∼33% -25%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Physics (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
2737 Points ∼100%
Samsung Galaxy S9
2486 Points ∼90% -9%
Nokia 7 Plus
2749 Points ∼100% 0%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
1822 Points ∼66% -33%
BlackBerry KeyOne
1793 Points ∼65% -34%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (2628 - 2757, n=5)
2714 Points ∼99% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (549 - 3669, n=319)
1572 Points ∼57% -43%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) Graphics (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
1201 Points ∼34%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3553 Points ∼100% +196%
Nokia 7 Plus
1161 Points ∼33% -3%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
721 Points ∼20% -40%
BlackBerry KeyOne
380 Points ∼11% -68%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (1161 - 1201, n=5)
1183 Points ∼33% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (69 - 5220, n=319)
1103 Points ∼31% -8%
2560x1440 Sling Shot Extreme (ES 3.1) (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
1372 Points ∼42%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3244 Points ∼100% +136%
Nokia 7 Plus
1332 Points ∼41% -3%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
833 Points ∼26% -39%
BlackBerry KeyOne
461 Points ∼14% -66%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (1332 - 1372, n=6)
1353 Points ∼42% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (86 - 4734, n=327)
1054 Points ∼32% -23%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
2736 Points ∼100%
Samsung Galaxy S9
2600 Points ∼95% -5%
Nokia 7 Plus
2734 Points ∼100% 0%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
1802 Points ∼66% -34%
BlackBerry KeyOne
1804 Points ∼66% -34%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (2638 - 2780, n=5)
2714 Points ∼99% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (532 - 3642, n=350)
1471 Points ∼54% -46%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
1856 Points ∼41%
Samsung Galaxy S9
4569 Points ∼100% +146%
Nokia 7 Plus
1895 Points ∼41% +2%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
1258 Points ∼28% -32%
BlackBerry KeyOne
728 Points ∼16% -61%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (1856 - 1938, n=5)
1903 Points ∼42% +3%
Average of class Smartphone (104 - 8312, n=350)
1499 Points ∼33% -19%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
1999 Points ∼51%
Samsung Galaxy S9
3911 Points ∼100% +96%
Nokia 7 Plus
2035 Points ∼52% +2%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
1348 Points ∼34% -33%
BlackBerry KeyOne
839 Points ∼21% -58%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (1999 - 2071, n=5)
2037 Points ∼52% +2%
Average of class Smartphone (127 - 6378, n=358)
1279 Points ∼33% -36%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
20224 Points ∼75%
Samsung Galaxy S9
26851 Points ∼100% +33%
Nokia 7 Plus
20085 Points ∼75% -1%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
12845 Points ∼48% -36%
BlackBerry KeyOne
15604 Points ∼58% -23%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (19050 - 21016, n=5)
20110 Points ∼75% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (7103 - 36762, n=505)
12408 Points ∼46% -39%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
26322 Points ∼54%
Samsung Galaxy S9
48433 Points ∼100% +84%
Nokia 7 Plus
29333 Points ∼61% +11%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
18449 Points ∼38% -30%
BlackBerry KeyOne
13188 Points ∼27% -50%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (26322 - 29422, n=5)
28673 Points ∼59% +9%
Average of class Smartphone (2465 - 160199, n=505)
16687 Points ∼34% -37%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
24669 Points ∼60%
Samsung Galaxy S9
41093 Points ∼100% +67%
Nokia 7 Plus
26610 Points ∼65% +8%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
16818 Points ∼41% -32%
BlackBerry KeyOne
13658 Points ∼33% -45%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (24669 - 26731, n=5)
26177 Points ∼64% +6%
Average of class Smartphone (2915 - 77599, n=506)
14150 Points ∼34% -43%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
43 fps ∼30%
Samsung Galaxy S9
144 fps ∼100% +235%
Nokia 7 Plus
50 fps ∼35% +16%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
30 fps ∼21% -30%
BlackBerry KeyOne
23 fps ∼16% -47%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (43 - 51, n=5)
48 fps ∼33% +12%
Average of class Smartphone (4.1 - 251, n=529)
29.2 fps ∼20% -32%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
52 fps ∼87%
Samsung Galaxy S9
60 fps ∼100% +15%
Nokia 7 Plus
48 fps ∼80% -8%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
28 fps ∼47% -46%
BlackBerry KeyOne
24 fps ∼40% -54%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (47 - 52, n=5)
49.2 fps ∼82% -5%
Average of class Smartphone (6.9 - 120, n=532)
24.1 fps ∼40% -54%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
21 fps ∼29%
Samsung Galaxy S9
73 fps ∼100% +248%
Nokia 7 Plus
23 fps ∼32% +10%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
14 fps ∼19% -33%
BlackBerry KeyOne
3.1 fps ∼4% -85%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (21 - 23, n=5)
22.6 fps ∼31% +8%
Average of class Smartphone (2.2 - 115, n=452)
15.5 fps ∼21% -26%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
23 fps ∼51%
Samsung Galaxy S9
45 fps ∼100% +96%
Nokia 7 Plus
22 fps ∼49% -4%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
13 fps ∼29% -43%
BlackBerry KeyOne
7.4 fps ∼16% -68%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (21 - 23, n=5)
21.8 fps ∼48% -5%
Average of class Smartphone (4.4 - 115, n=454)
15.2 fps ∼34% -34%
GFXBench 3.1
off screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Offscreen (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
13 fps ∼28%
Samsung Galaxy S9
46 fps ∼100% +254%
Nokia 7 Plus
14 fps ∼30% +8%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
9.8 fps ∼21% -25%
BlackBerry KeyOne
3.5 fps ∼8% -73%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (13 - 15, n=5)
14.4 fps ∼31% +11%
Average of class Smartphone (1.3 - 69.3, n=316)
13.3 fps ∼29% +2%
on screen Manhattan ES 3.1 Onscreen (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
12 fps ∼50%
Samsung Galaxy S9
24 fps ∼100% +100%
Nokia 7 Plus
15 fps ∼63% +25%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
9.4 fps ∼39% -22%
BlackBerry KeyOne
4.1 fps ∼17% -66%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (12 - 15, n=6)
13.8 fps ∼58% +15%
Average of class Smartphone (2.6 - 110, n=318)
13.2 fps ∼55% +10%
GFXBench
off screen Car Chase Offscreen (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
9 fps ∼32%
Samsung Galaxy S9
28 fps ∼100% +211%
Nokia 7 Plus
8.3 fps ∼30% -8%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
5.6 fps ∼20% -38%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (8.3 - 9.1, n=5)
8.9 fps ∼32% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (0.72 - 40, n=248)
9.16 fps ∼33% +2%
on screen Car Chase Onscreen (sort by value)
BlackBerry Key2
9.8 fps ∼70%
Samsung Galaxy S9
14 fps ∼100% +43%
Nokia 7 Plus
9.1 fps ∼65% -7%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
5.3 fps ∼38% -46%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (8.3 - 9.8, n=6)
8.83 fps ∼63% -10%
Average of class Smartphone (1.1 - 50, n=251)
8.35 fps ∼60% -15%
Lightmark - 1920x1080 1080p (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S9
34.04 fps ∼100%
Nokia 7 Plus
15.07 fps ∼44%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
15.1 fps ∼44%
Average of class Smartphone (1.06 - 38.7, n=72)
12.1 fps ∼36%
Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal - offscreen Overall Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy S9
1436 Points ∼100%
Nokia 7 Plus
349 Points ∼24%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (349 - 353, n=2)
351 Points ∼24%
Average of class Smartphone (36.3 - 2606, n=68)
669 Points ∼47%

Legend

 
BlackBerry Key2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, Qualcomm Adreno 512, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Exynos 9810, ARM Mali-G72 MP18, 64 GB UFS 2.1 Flash
 
Nokia 7 Plus Qualcomm Snapdragon 660, Qualcomm Adreno 512, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
Motorola Moto G6 Plus Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, Qualcomm Adreno 508, 64 GB eMMC Flash
 
BlackBerry KeyOne Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, Qualcomm Adreno 506, 32 GB eMMC Flash

Our test device’s browser benchmark performance is adequate for a device at this price. Websites load reasonably quickly and scrolling on the default Google Chrome 67 browser always feels smooth.

JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Samsung Browser 7.0)
67.721 Points ∼100% +27%
Nokia 7 Plus (Chrome 60)
53.89 Points ∼80% +1%
BlackBerry Key2 (Chrome 67)
53.309 Points ∼79%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (49.4 - 54.7, n=5)
52.7 Points ∼78% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (10.8 - 273, n=387)
35.1 Points ∼52% -34%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus (Chrome 66)
27.971 Points ∼41% -48%
BlackBerry KeyOne
24.15 Points ∼36% -55%
Octane V2 - Total Score
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Samsung Browser 7.0)
15233 Points ∼100% +50%
Nokia 7 Plus (Chrome 60)
10945 Points ∼72% +8%
BlackBerry Key2 (Chrome 67)
10174 Points ∼67%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (9582 - 10945, n=6)
10106 Points ∼66% -1%
Average of class Smartphone (1506 - 43280, n=523)
5237 Points ∼34% -49%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus (Chrome 66)
5011 Points ∼33% -51%
BlackBerry KeyOne (Chrome 59)
3804 Points ∼25% -63%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Average of class Smartphone (603 - 59466, n=542)
11780 ms * ∼100% -200%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus (Chrome 66)
9796.9 ms * ∼83% -149%
BlackBerry KeyOne (Chrome 59)
9202 ms * ∼78% -134%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (3796 - 4769, n=5)
4105 ms * ∼35% -5%
Nokia 7 Plus (Chrome 60)
3937.3 ms * ∼33% -0%
BlackBerry Key2 (Chrome 67)
3926.9 ms * ∼33%
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Samsung Browser 7.0)
2077.8 ms * ∼18% +47%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score
Nokia 7 Plus (Chrome 60)
168 Points ∼100%
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 (159 - 173, n=4)
168 Points ∼100%
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Samsung Browser 7.0)
163 Points ∼97%
Motorola Moto G6 Plus (Chrome 66)
108 Points ∼64%
Average of class Smartphone (27 - 362, n=260)
104 Points ∼62%
BlackBerry KeyOne (Chrome 59)
82 Points ∼49%

* ... smaller is better

The KEY2 is equipped with 64 GB of eMMC flash storage. This storage technology is still used in many devices that cost between €600-€700 (~$700-~$820), but devices such as the OnePlus 6 are now equipped with faster UFS 2.1 flash storage. The Galaxy S9 is equipped with UFS 2.1 flash storage and has significantly faster random read and sequential read speeds because of this difference in storage technology.

The KEY2 also supports up to 256 GB microSD/microSDHC/microSDXC cards. Our test device achieves decent speeds in AndroBench 3-5 with our Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 reference microSD card. The 82.52 MB/s sequential read and 61.68 MB/s sequential write speeds are on par with the Galaxy S9 and are faster than the KEYone.

BlackBerry Key2Samsung Galaxy S9Nokia 7 PlusMotorola Moto G6 PlusBlackBerry KeyOneAverage 64 GB eMMC FlashAverage of class Smartphone
AndroBench 3-5
61%
3%
47%
-25%
-10%
-32%
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard
61.68 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
67.18 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
9%
62.31
1%
62.13 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
1%
53.21 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M401)
-14%
53.1 (14.1 - 74.7, n=59)
-14%
44.2 (3.4 - 87.1, n=294)
-28%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard
82.52 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
79.22 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
-4%
82.21
0%
83.65 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
1%
77.91 (Toshiba Exceria Pro M401)
-6%
72 (21.1 - 86.9, n=59)
-13%
62.6 (8.2 - 96.5, n=294)
-24%
Random Write 4KB
17.18
23.07
34%
19.62
14%
62.76
265%
12.5
-27%
18 (3.4 - 83.5, n=67)
5%
14.1 (0.14 - 164, n=575)
-18%
Random Read 4KB
56.78
131
131%
54.65
-4%
58.39
3%
36.8
-35%
48.4 (11.4 - 149, n=67)
-15%
35.7 (1.59 - 173, n=575)
-37%
Sequential Write 256KB
208.39
206.94
-1%
211.6
2%
216.09
4%
77
-63%
161 (40 - 216, n=67)
-23%
74.7 (2.99 - 228, n=575)
-64%
Sequential Read 256KB
273.14
815.43
199%
283.12
4%
286.64
5%
267.1
-2%
268 (115 - 704, n=67)
-2%
218 (12.1 - 895, n=575)
-20%

Games

Qualcomm Adreno 512 GPU handles the graphics. The GPU is powerful enough to play most games in high details and at high refresh rates. We measured FPS with GameBench, during which “Arena of Valor” ran at the highest graphics settings without a problem. We would recommend playing more complex games such as “Shadow Fight 3” at medium graphics settings for a smooth experience though. Graphically intensive games such as “PUBG Mobile” are also playable, but we had to further reduce the graphics settings for an enjoyable experience.

The KEY2 is not designed with gaming in mind though, and its ergonomics reflect that. Games are difficult to play in landscape mode as you must hold the device awkwardly with the keyboard jutting out to one side. Moreover, the speaker is easily covered when playing games because of the odd grip, which stifles any in-game sounds.

Shadow Fight 3
Shadow Fight 3
Arena of Valor
Arena of Valor
Arena of Valor
 SettingsValue
 high HD60 fps
  Your browser does not support the canvas element!
Shadow Fight 3
 SettingsValue
 minimal60 fps

Emissions

Temperature

GFXBench T-Rex benchmark (OpenGL ES 2.0)
GFXBench T-Rex benchmark (OpenGL ES 2.0)
GFXBench Manhattan benchmark (OpenGL ES 3.1)
GFXBench Manhattan benchmark (OpenGL ES 3.1)

Surface temperatures should not be a problem in daily use. The KEY2 remains relatively cool at idle, with our test device averaging 29.2 °C (~85 °F) on the front and 28.6 °C (~83 °F) on its rear. Our test device reaches a maximum of 36.6 °C (~98 °F) on the front and 36.9 °C (~99 °F) on the back under load, with average surface temperatures under load a couple of degrees lower than maximum temperatures.

The KEY2 fails to maintain its peak performance in load tests though. For reference, we ran each test thirty times on a loop. Performance started to drop after the second run of GFXBench T-Rex (OpenGL ES 2.0), with performance about 40% down after the eighteenth pass. Meanwhile, performance drops by around 35% in the even more demanding GFXBench Manhattan test (OpenGL ES 3.1).

Max. Load
 36.6 °C
98 F
35.3 °C
96 F
34.4 °C
94 F
 
 36.2 °C
97 F
35.3 °C
96 F
32.6 °C
91 F
 
 35.7 °C
96 F
34.6 °C
94 F
30.5 °C
87 F
 
Maximum: 36.6 °C = 98 F
Average: 34.6 °C = 94 F
31.7 °C
89 F
33 °C
91 F
36.9 °C
98 F
31.1 °C
88 F
34.2 °C
94 F
36.5 °C
98 F
30.5 °C
87 F
34.3 °C
94 F
35.5 °C
96 F
Maximum: 36.9 °C = 98 F
Average: 33.7 °C = 93 F
Power Supply (max.)  28.1 °C = 83 F | Room Temperature 20.1 °C = 68 F | Voltcraft IR-260
Surface temperatures on the front of the device under load
Surface temperatures on the front of the device under load
Surface temperatures on the rear of the device under load
Surface temperatures on the rear of the device under load

Speakers

Pink Noise speaker test
Pink Noise speaker test

The KEY2 has a single mono speaker on the underside of the device. We measure the maximum volume at 85.9 dB(A), which is on par with the Galaxy S9.

Sound quality is passable, with there being no audible rattling or tininess when playing music. The KEY2 cannot compete with more expensive devices such as the Galaxy S9 in this regard though.

The frequency range is relatively uniform from 500 Hz to 7 kHz, but there are no bass tones nor are super high tones above 8 kHz well represented either.

The KEY2 has a 3.5 mm jack too, which is no longer a given in smartphones. The sound quality is okay, but it is nothing special.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2033.932.92528.435.53136.132.24030.925.25030.628.46322.227.38024.92110024.421.512523.522.916020.331.620019.840.625018.246.931517.453.540016.658.850017.159.363015.960.980015.963.8100015.964.5125016.772.216001675.1200015.973.2250016.277.4315016.47740001774.9500016.574630016.475.7800016.674.2100001769.41250016.565.51600016.955.2SPL28.685.9N1.160.5median 16.6BlackBerry Key2median 64.5Delta1.613.228.62724.92424.624.526.42530.830.823.625.820.222.919.927.817.638.619.150.619.150.317.454.116.959.516.862.215.165.916.56915.670.71573.315.572.115.372.415.773.515.574.515.575.815.476.215.874.61678.215.873.216.169.916.165.517.359.327.986166.7median 16Samsung Galaxy S9median 69.90.68.3hearing rangehide median Pink Noise
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
BlackBerry Key2 audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (85.9 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 28.4% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (11.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 5.3% higher than median
(+) | mids are linear (6.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 10.1% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (4.7% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (26.6% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 61% of all tested devices in this class were better, 8% similar, 30% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 77% of all tested devices were better, 5% similar, 18% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Samsung Galaxy S9 audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (86 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 23.1% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (11.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 3.1% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (3.8% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 4.8% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (17.1% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 3% of all tested devices in this class were better, 2% similar, 95% worse
» The best had a delta of 13%, average was 25%, worst was 44%
Compared to all devices tested
» 25% of all tested devices were better, 7% similar, 68% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Power Management

Power Consumption

Our test device has slightly better power consumption than the average of the other Snapdragon 660 powered devices that we have tested, principally because the KEY2 has a smaller display than many other devices.

The KEY2 fully recharges in around eighty minutes with the included charger thanks to its support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.01 / 0.13 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.56 / 1.51 / 1.54 Watt
Load midlight 3.94 / 7.87 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
BlackBerry Key2
3500 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S9
3000 mAh
Nokia 7 Plus
3800 mAh
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
3200 mAh
BlackBerry KeyOne
3505 mAh
Average Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
 
Average of class Smartphone
 
Power Consumption
17%
-16%
5%
-7%
-30%
-15%
Idle Minimum *
0.56
0.65
-16%
0.65
-16%
0.5
11%
0.89
-59%
0.738 (0.56 - 1.2, n=5)
-32%
0.881 (0.2 - 3.4, n=603)
-57%
Idle Average *
1.51
0.81
46%
1.76
-17%
1.78
-18%
1.81
-20%
1.914 (1.51 - 2.2, n=5)
-27%
1.718 (0.6 - 6.2, n=602)
-14%
Idle Maximum *
1.54
0.92
40%
1.78
-16%
1.81
-18%
1.83
-19%
2.31 (1.54 - 4.1, n=5)
-50%
1.987 (0.74 - 6.6, n=603)
-29%
Load Average *
3.94
4.76
-21%
4.47
-13%
3.3
16%
3
24%
5.15 (3.94 - 8.2, n=5)
-31%
4.02 (0.8 - 10.8, n=597)
-2%
Load Maximum *
7.87
5.16
34%
9.13
-16%
5.14
35%
4.91
38%
8.6 (5.93 - 12.2, n=5)
-9%
5.68 (1.2 - 14.2, n=597)
28%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

The KEY2 has a 3,500 mAh battery, which is smaller than the Nokia 7 Plus, but is larger than both the Galaxy S9 and the Moto G6 Plus. The KEYone has a 5 mAh larger battery, which would hardly make a practical difference in terms of battery life.

We would have liked to see a larger battery given the KEY2’s bright display and powerful SoC, but our test device performed reasonably well in our Wi-Fi battery test with a runtime of ten hours and fifty-one minutes. During this test, we run a script that simulates the load required to render websites. In practice, the KEY2 will need to be charged every twenty-four hours.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Chrome 67)
10h 51min
BlackBerry Key2
3500 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S9
3000 mAh
Nokia 7 Plus
3800 mAh
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
3200 mAh
BlackBerry KeyOne
3505 mAh
Battery Runtime
WiFi v1.3
651
474
-27%
672
3%
702
8%
623
-4%

Pros

+ meaningful security and business features
+ physical keyboard for frequent typists
+ fast CPU

Cons

- relatively small display
- flat sound
- poor camera performance in low-light

Verdict

The BlackBerry KEY2 in review. Test device courtesy of TCL.
The BlackBerry KEY2 in review. Test device courtesy of TCL.

The days of BlackBerry OS are over, but the BlackBerry KEY2 is still a business-centric device. The KEY2 has a physical keyboard that is almost as quick to type on as a virtual keyboard after some practice. The KEY2 scores highly for its snappy SoC and its near stock implementation of Android, for which we hope that there will be numerous updates. TCL has certainly indicated this with its prompt Android security patch updates.

BlackBerry has reinvented itself, and with the KEY2 combines data security with a practically stock Android Oreo experience. There are comparably priced devices with better speakers and cameras though.

The KEY2 includes a few additional apps and software features that enhance device and data security over stock Android.

The KEY2 has a 4.5-inch display, which is relatively small for a device at this price. This is only a minor gripe though as the KEY2 is one of the few devices with a physical keyboard. Camera and sound quality could be better too, but overall the BlackBerry KEY2 is a solid business smartphone with enough hardware and software features to make it stand out from the crowd.

BlackBerry Key2 - 07/16/2018 v6
Thomas Meyer and Daniel Schmidt

Chassis
86%
Keyboard
76 / 75 → 100%
Pointing Device
88%
Connectivity
45 / 60 → 75%
Weight
90%
Battery
94%
Display
85%
Games Performance
52 / 63 → 83%
Application Performance
60 / 70 → 85%
Temperature
91%
Noise
100%
Audio
66 / 91 → 72%
Camera
64%
Average
77%
85%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > BlackBerry KEY2 Smartphone Review
Thomas Meyer and Daniel Schmidt, 2018-07-21 (Update: 2018-07-24)